Scan, Print, Wear – Does The Future of Fashion Lie in 3D?

3D Printing is disrupting yet another industry – fashion. But this time, the big companies are ahead of the game.

3d printing fashion industry

From parts for fighter jets, to prosthetic arms and legs, and concept cars, 3D Printing is being used to manufacture a huge variety of items. And with its use on the rise, it’s putting pressure on organisations to reassess their manufacturing and supply chains.

The latest industry to come into the sights of the 3D Printing revolution is one that might surprise you – fashion. It’s not strictly a new phenomenon (it’s been over a year since these items first appeared), but it’s worth noting for a couple of important reasons.

Firstly, unlike in other industries, the well-known clothing manufacturers are at the forefront of the efforts. Secondly, the consideration of what this might mean for the fashion industry in terms of manufacturing and intellectual property.

Introducing Liquid Factory

Last week, Reebok announced the introduction of ‘Liquid Factory‘, a brand new manufacturing process using the concept of 3D drawing. Using a liquid created especially for them, Reebok can literally draw a shoe, without the need to use a mould at any point.

Not only does this drastically reduce the speed of manufacture, but it also allows Reebok to innovate more freely in the design of their footwear. According to Bill McInnes, Head of Future at Reebok, it’s the first jump forward in footwear manufacturing in over 30 years.

“One of the most exciting things about Liquid Factory is the speed. We can create and customise the design of shoes in real time, because we’re not using moulds – we’re simply programming a machine,” said McInnis. “Liquid Factory is not just a new way of making things, it’s a new speed of making things.”

Innovation doesn’t come cheap, for the consumer at least. A pair of the new ‘Liquid Speed’ trainers will set you back $189.50, though McInnes points out they more advanced than other trainers.

Setting the Fashion Trends

Reebok aren’t alone in using new methods to creating footwear.

Adidas rewarded its sponsored athletes who won medals at Rio 2016 with a new 3D printed running shoe. Under Armour created a new trainer with a 3D printed sole, and sold out the entire line (at $300 a pair) after Michael Phelps wore them at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Under Armour have stated that the 3D printing process allows them to create a highly customised shoe based on individuals’ vital statistics. And printing, rather than moulding, allows for “mass customisation” without huge increases in price.

And it’s not just trainers that are going through the 3D printer. Bikinis, dresses, and even the costumes for HBO’s latest masterpiece, Westworld, have been 3D printed. 3D printing is also being used to manufacture so-called “smart fabrics“, essentially wearable technology in clothing.

IP, Counterfeits & Consumers

However, while 3D printing holds many positives for the fashion industry, there are concerns too. Consumers are unlikely to see changes to their shopping habits in the very near future. But it’s how shopping will evolve that plays a major role in the fashion industry’s evolution.

Consumers may in the future be able to pay to download files of clothes to print themselves at home. 3D body scans could make tailored clothing much cheaper and more accessible.

But the over-riding concern for designers and retailers is what would happen to the IP. And how could they cope with the likely influx of counterfeit goods. The industry already deals with countless fakes, but access to CAD files and cheaper 3D printers could see the issue increase exponentially.

Fortunately, the fashion industry has time on its side in this respect. Affordable 3D printers capable of this are still very rare. And if organisations choose to invest time and resources into protecting their IP now, it could save them considerable trouble in the future.

Will 3D Printing change the way we buy clothes? Could it also see an end to sweatshop labour in fast fashion? Share your views below.

While we’ve been searching for a cheap 3D printer, we’ve also been on the look-out for the top headlines this week.

Uber Drivers in Landmark Case Win

  • Uber drivers in the UK have won an employment tribunal case, which ruled they were workers, rather than self-employed.
  • The decision means that drivers will be entitled to holiday pay, rest breaks and the national minimum wage.
  • Uber, who argued that its drivers were self-employed contractors, has already said it will appeal.
  • Should the verdict stand, it could impact tens of thousands of workers in a similar situation.

Read more on The BBC

Tesla Posts First Profit in Three Years

  • Electric car maker Tesla has posted a surprise profit this quarter after selling more vehicles than expected.
  • The company’s revenue rose 145 per cent to $2.3 billion in the quarter, while vehicle sales doubled to 24,821.
  • Tesla’s stock rose 5 per cent in response to the news.
  • The news may mean Tesla is able to meet its bold target of selling between 80,000 and 90,000 electric vehicles this year.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Currency Related Price Increases Continue

  • Microsoft has become the latest company to increase its prices as it adjusted its charges to account for currency fluctuations.
  • The rise comes less than two weeks after Unilever’s public spat with Tesco over requested price increases.
  • Microsoft stated that the increases were as a result of assessing their product prices, and creating alignment across the European region.
  • Apple have also announced price rises on their hardware in the UK, some by more than £500.

Read more at Supply Management

Modern Slavery Allegations in Fashion Supply Chains

  • A BBC investigation has revealed modern slavery and child labour in the supply chains of major global companies.
  • The supply chains of Marks & Spencer and ASOS were found to have poor working conditions in Turkish factories.
  • War of Want also alleged similar findings in the supply chain of Japanese retailer, Uniqlo.
  • The company’s Chinese suppliers have been found to enforce excessive overtime, and dangerous conditions, on their workers.

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

Samsung Eats Horsemeat on the Titanic with Captain Kirk

Highlighting potential procurement lessons from the latest supply chain crisis for Samsung – the Galaxy Note 7.

samsung galaxy

This article was written by Daniel Ball, Director at Wax Digital.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 spent just two and a half months on the market before it was recalled amidst a crisis badly affecting its share price, not to mention its brand image.

The device was quickly taken off the market after some models of the phone exploded and went on fire. It was found that overheating lithium ion batteries were to blame.

Some analysts have been quick to consider how a respectable brand like Samsung, which surely has a sound manufacturing process and supply chain, has come to retailing a product that turns out to be dangerous.

Many have put the blip down to Samsung’s competition with rival Apple. The battery of the Galaxy Note 7 is bigger and has a higher energy density than Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. This suggests that Samsung has tightly crammed in more components.

Has Samsung’s desire to trump Apple seen it rush a product to the market without properly addressing the true capability of its battery technology?

It’s also been argued that the mobile sector’s demands are pushing battery technology to and in some cases beyond, its limits. It’s not the first time this technology has literally flared up (remember the hoverboards last Christmas?).

Race to Beat the Competition

The situation raises a key question that applies to any competitive marketplace.

At what point does the race to release new products and beat the competition, or simply deliver a competitively priced product to tight margins, become more important than ensuring your supply chain is not taking risks? Where is the line drawn in adding components into the product that could ultimately harm the very people you are trying to win over (your customers)?

It’s what I call ‘the Titanic effect’. In a bid to make the infamous boat lighter and faster in the race to cross the Atlantic, all sorts of risks were taken. And it was the customer who paid the ultimate price.

While not all risks involved are supply chain related you have to ask the question “what was procurement’s role in all of this?”

Are customer and business demands properly mapped onto supply chain capabilities? Are supplier checks rigorous enough to ensure they can do the job we need them to do safely and securely?

Or is procurement like poor Mr Scott in Star Trek, constantly at the mercy of his boss, Captain Kirk, wanting him to flog the warp engines again even though he keeps telling him “they cannae take much more”. 

At the bottom line, visibility of who is in your supply chain and how they are operating has reared its head once again. It raises the point that procurement needs to play an increased role in the decisions of the business to ensure the rules of demand and supply are effectively balanced.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #20 – Transforming Sustainability Collaboration

Sustainability is the new frontier for businesses. And procurement will play a key role in the collaborative management of resources.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Sustainability – The New Business Frontier

Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO of 2degrees network, believes that sustainability is the new frontier for businesses. He also believes that collaboration will be critical to enable organisations to make the most of increasingly scarce resources.

Martin goes on to say that procurement will be at the heart of this change, responsible for supplier management and collaboration across global and geographically dispersed supply chains.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Making the Final Ascent from CPO to CEO

Taking the final step from CPO to CEO appears to elude many procurement leaders. So, why does Procurement so often lose out to Finance?

ceo to cpo

At the eWorld procurement conference last month Tania Seary interviewed me about leadership as part of Procurious’ Career Boot Camp series. After we finished she said, “there’s one question we ran out of time for: why do so few CPOs become CEOs?”

This set me thinking on my flight home. There are well known examples of the supply chain providing the key to the executive washroom. Tim Cook at Apple, and Sam Walsh at Rio Tinto are just two of the more well-known.

Famously, though, the best trodden route to the top is via the Finance function. 52 per cent of FTSE100 CEOs and 30 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs have a financial background. So why do the accountants win out?

Show Me the Money!

There’s a Dilbert cartoon where the boss informs his staff: “you know we said ‘people are our most valuable asset? Turns out we were wrong. Money is our most valuable asset.”

dilbert-assets
Courtesy of Scott Adams (dilbert.com)

Given the paucity of HR directors making it to the hot seat, it seems boards tend to agree. CPOs should score well here: at the core of the role, after all, is to maximise the effectiveness of the company’s expenditure.

“Much travell’d in the realms of Gold”

Peter Smith’s eWorld workshop inspired me to quote Shelley, so it may be time to turn to Keats.

The other great advantage possessed by Finance Directors is that they see the entirety of the organisation: from wide expanses to western islands, no corner is hidden from their view nor beyond their reach.

This is critical. The board relies on the FD as one of the few people, other than the CEO, who has a grasp on how the totality of the business fits together. Not only does she or he have knowledge of what’s going on in each part, but they also appreciate the interlinkages between them.

How do CPOs fare against this measure? Well, if we’re frank, variably. In some organisations, CPOs see the complete cost base and fully understand how the company’s capital is deployed – and why.

In others, they may only influence part of applicable spend – KPMG’s survey suggested the average is around 60 per cent. Without that comprehensive view, the nominations committee may not consider a candidate ready to take overall leadership.

I suspect this is the most critical factor holding CPOs back. Ascending to greater height affords – but may also in the corporate world, require – a broader view.

Then like stout Cortez, with eagle eyes, may the CPO take that final step to become a CEO, and survey the scene, silent, on a peak in Darien.

To hear more from Stuart, catch up with his Career Boot Camp podcast here. You can also read more from Stuart on the impact of maverick purchasing on procurement, and download the latest Applegate whitepaper on the subject.

How Big Data Insights are Revolutionising Global Procurement Strategy

More companies than ever are using Big Data insights to drive their decision making. But what key benefits are they realising by doing so?

big-data-insights

This article was originally published on My Purchasing Center.

Advances in technology are making it possible to generate more data than ever before. We can quantify, measure and track every interaction, transaction and engagement in excruciating detail.

And when we collect these “big data,” we can gain tremendous insights into business processes, including global procurement strategy.

Because global procurement is focused entirely around obtaining greater efficiencies and streamlining purchasing operations, global procurement is primed to be revolutionised by the insights that stem from big data.

Businesses that collect big data insights are finding that they can refine global procurement strategies and processes with greater precision than ever before. They also can intervene more effectively to resolve problems and challenges, and they can use concrete data instead of intuition and instinct to accomplish this work.

One study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, finds that among companies in the top third within their industry, the use of data-driven decision-making made a company 5 per cent more productive and 6 per cent more profitable than a company that didn’t use data-driven decision-making.

Let’s explore the specific ways that big data insights are revolutionising the global procurement industry:

Shorten order-to-delivery times

Traditionally, the procurement timeline has been based largely on individuals using their best judgment and insider knowledge to get the right products and resources to the right place at the right time.

No matter how talented people are, however, they’re often no match for a computer algorithm that is specifically designed to optimise timelines and manage all aspects of the ordering and delivery process.

Computer-based analytics also can adapt to changing conditions in real time, ensuring that no matter what happens, nothing will slip through the cracks, and order-to-delivery times will continue to be optimised.

Increase supply chain efficiency

As with managing a procurement timeline, individual people can only manage a supply chain as efficiently as the human brain will allow.

Analytics software goes past the limitations of the human brain, processing and interpreting more data points about a supply chain than anyone’s brain could possibly synthesise.

In the end, these big-data insights yield more precise predictions about how to optimise the supply chain – and better predictions yield better decisions.

Lower costs

The goal of global procurement is to achieve cost savings, so it makes perfect sense to use big data insights to optimise all opportunities to lower costs.

Analytics software can instantaneously and accurately compute more possible combinations of events and items and scenarios than any human brain could, and computers can also thus make the “sweet spot” recommendation that appropriately balances all of these competing factors.

Improve supplier-client relationships

Both the supplier and the procurement client benefit from big-data insights. The supplier gets access to invaluable information that helps the supplier more effectively allocate its resources, as well as make plans to deliver on time and on budget.

The client benefits by no longer being forced to actively manage every aspect of the procurement process. Rather, a computer-based management approach frees the client to focus on building and enhancing relationships with suppliers, and on developing creative, out-of-the-box solutions that further enhance procurement processes.

Eliminate arbitrary decision-making

As much as businesses like to think their managers are making sound decisions, some will inevitably make decisions based on emotion, gut instinct, and self-interest.

Big data insights dramatically reduce the chances of this by forcing managers to not only use data-driven analytics to make decisions, but also to be prepared to defend those decisions.

As more businesses turn to big data insights to drive global procurement strategy, it’s important to provide adequate resources to support this transition and to provide adequate time for this transition.

When big data insights are integrated effectively into procurement processes, businesses can count on shorter order-to-delivery times, increased supply chain efficiencies, lowered costs, improved supplier-client relationships, and less arbitrary decision-making.

With more than 30 years of experience working with and providing excellent customer service to companies of all sizes, Rick Bender now is the Sales Director at CenterPoint Group.

CenterPoint is a management consulting firm that specialises in reducing purchasing expenses of businesses in areas such as office supplies, janitorial supplies, and industrial supplies.  

How to Strike Gold When Seeking a Mentor

Finding a mentor is no longer limited to new starts. Now senior leaders are seeking the benefits of a two-way mentoring relationship.

Mentor

This article first appeared in Women’s Agenda.

I am 45 years old and own three businesses. Yet I’ve had three mentors in the past three months. A chairman, who is helping me navigate the new territory of being an international business owner, and two 25 year-olds who have coaxed and coached me on the power of social media.

Mentoring, it never sleeps.

Apparently I’m not the only “experienced” leader who has sought out a more junior executive to be my mentor. Reverse mentoring has become a bit of a trend.

Procurement and business leaders are facing a race to unearth new opportunities and remain relevant in a rapidly changing digital economy. This is causing a shift in the traditional mentoring framework – senior mentor coaching junior mentee – to one that is more collaborative and co-creative.

That’s not to mean traditional mentor relationships should be thrown out. My first mentor was the traditional type. She was someone I respected, who was more senior than me, who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes.

But the lines are blurring. Whether it’s someone with years of experience under their belt or someone with less years than yourself, finding the right mentor fit is key.

Today, many Millennials seem obsessed with finding a mentor, convinced that it is the magic key to career advancement. Sheryl Sandberg, makes the following observation in her book, Lean In:

“I realised that searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming,” she writes.

“We all grew up on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after.”

The important truth is that mentors find you, not the other way around. Sandberg believes we need to stop telling mentees, “Get a mentor and you will excel.” Instead, we need to tell them, “Excel and you will get a mentor.”

So how can you increase your chances of a great mentor relationship?

1. Check that you don’t already have a mentor

Sometimes in large organisations there are lots of people advocating for you – you just don’t realise it. Open your eyes and ears to people who may already be informally mentoring you.

2. Get to know yourself and pinpoint where you need to grow

Self-awareness is one of the most valuable traits you can develop as a leader. We can all be our own greatest critics, but we need to take an honest look in the mirror and really understand and reconcile our opportunities for development.

Sometimes we can be attracted to people who are actually a lot like ourselves, when in reality we need advice from people who have strengths in areas we don’t.

3. Be brave and find an “unreasonable friend”

One of the key take outs I got from Craig Harper, High Performance Coach and Exercise Scientist, was that everyone needs an unreasonable friend. That is someone who just won’t tell us what we WANT to hear, but what we NEED to hear.

We need to be brave enough to have someone like this in our lives, and really take their feedback onboard.

4. Relax and let the relationship unfold

If you consciously know that you want a mentor, you will unconsciously seek out that person. Don’t push the universe too much. Wait for your mentor to evolve naturally, then cultivate the relationship in a measured, professional way.

5. You don’t need just one mentor

Don’t feel like you need just one person to give you the answers to all your development questions. We are surrounded by amazing people that we can learn different things from every day. I’m a prime example of that as I learn from people from all walks of my life!

The great mentors of my life have not been created through formal relationships. They have been created in the workplace based on mutual respect, my desire to learn and my mentor’s willingness to share knowledge, promote me to others and, most importantly, help me believe in myself.

5 Common Failures in Technology Implementation

Technology should provide huge benefits in procurement. So why do so many projects fail at the implementation phase?

failure at implementation

 

Join our webinar on the 7th of November and find out how to drive successful technology implementation.

If you’ve been a procurement professional for any length of time, this is probably a familiar situation.

Your company has decided to implement new technology in the procurement function. A date for go-live has been set, and some training has been arranged for current users. There are grumblings about yet another system to be used, but that doesn’t fit with current procurement processes.

When you ask around, very few, if any, of the department have been asked to input into this decision. The company certainly doesn’t seem to have spoken to people who are actually going to be using the system.

When the time comes, the technology is implemented, and training is rolled out. The procurement team accept the new system (perhaps grudgingly), and start to use it.

Within a few weeks, the (very short) honeymoon period is over, and the issues and bugs have appeared. Far from improving or simplifying the processes, the technology isn’t working out as planned. It’s begun to make even simple tasks more difficult.

Within months, the shiny, new, purpose-built technology is being used for the bare minimum that the procurement team can get away with, and they have begun to come up with novel ways to work around the system.

Difference Between Success and Failure

While situations like this may be decreasing in number, they still occur with uncomfortable regularity. When it comes to technology across organisations, not just in procurement, implementation is the stage in the process that is most associated with the success or failure of the project.

Ahead of the free webinar between Oracle and Procurious, Darryl Griffiths, Acting MD at Enrich, and implementation expert, shares his key reasons for why implementations fail.

  1. Alignment of Strategy and Technology

Ensuring that the business, procurement and operational strategy all aligns is the first step in this process. However, too often, strategies aren’t aligned, or have been created in isolation without proper discuss.

Without fully understanding the strategy, the objectives for the technology implementation can’t be fully understood. This can lead to the wrong technology for the project being selected, and not being fit for purpose against the objectives.

  1. Lack of Change Management Plan

The plan for how the technology is going to be implemented should be laid out clearly from the start. Frequently, organisations work towards their go-live date, but give little thought to the short, medium, and long-term plan following the launch.

Too few plans take into account training requirements, or how new users will receive this training when they start in the department. 

  1. Lack of Communication or Champions

Without good communication, it’s likely to be a fight to get buy-in. Without buy-in, the implementation is doomed to failure.

Organisations don’t take into account the end users of the technology. This leads to the ‘why’ of the project never being disseminated.

This leads to the perception of new technology being forced on them, and breeds resistance. This resistance undermines the project, creating a situation where users are expecting the technology to fail, rather than having an open mind on how it can help them.

  1. Poor or Out-of-Date Data

The old technology didn’t work properly because the data wasn’t right. But there’s no data clean-up been carried out before the new technology is implemented. Which means the new system won’t work any better.

There is a vast amount of data available to procurement, which technology is frequently implemented to help sift through. However, putting poor data into the system, as well as not keeping the data up to date, will inevitably result in bad data out.

  1. Built to Last vs. Built to Change

In years gone by, products were built to last. It was common for things to last 10 years or more. However, in a marketplace and environment where agility and flexibility are valued, a built-to-last system may not fit the bill.

If the system hasn’t been built to be changed easily, then it’s going to go out of date very quickly. And it’s unlikely that budget will be available for a new system after 1-2 years, when it was designed to last 10 years.

Secret of Success

It’s easy to pin-point where technology implementation fails, but far harder to ensure that it’s a success from the outset. However, if the right strategies are in place, and all the planning is carried out, procurement gives itself a greater chance of success.

If you want to find out more about how to manage your implementation, and hear more from Darryl on how you can set yourself up for success, join our free webinar on the 7th of November.

Darryl will join Oracle Business Development Direction, David Hobson, in a discussion chaired by Procurious Founder, Tania Seary. The webinar is aimed at helping Procurement Leaders come to terms with volatility, understand the role and benefits of technology, especially cloud, in procurement strategy, planning and decision making.

For more information, and to register, visit our dedicated page.

Setting KPIs for Beginners: Measuring Success

Now we have our KPIs agreed, how do we measure our data in order to ensure success in supplier relationships?

measure success

Catch up with part one and part two of this three-part introductory overview of the role and relevance of KPIs to support Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

So, we’ve established the why, the what, and the how for setting KPIs. Now we need to understand how we are going to measure the KPIs in order to provide meaningful reports, and set a recipe for success!

Systems for Capturing KPI Data

In a perfect world, KPI data should come from automated systems. However, when you receive the data from the supplier, you may want to corroborate some of it with your own.

Commercial software vendors like SAP-Ariba, Coupa, Oracle, Emptoris and others have features that monitor and track some KPIs. The base functionality comes through the core purchasing systems. Some organisations, however, choose to develop their own reporting systems to ensure they have the features and flexibility they need.

Another option is to use manual systems and processes. This could include disseminating data through spreadsheets, email or any other format that users have access to.

These methods are simple and can be very effective if applied consistently, but obviously take a lot more time than automated reporting. One concern with manual systems is the higher potential for human error.

Typical Data Points for Measuring KPIs

The types of data points you can collect depend on the system you’re using. Below is a sample list – keep in mind that your list will depend on your organisation’s tools, systems and reporting requirements.

  • At the point of ordering: you can check the order against the contract to track compliance.
  • At the point of receipt: you can verify whether goods are delivered in full or delivered on time.
  • At the point of invoicing: you can check invoice accuracy and blocked invoices.
  • At the point of inspection or usage: you can collect quality metrics, including defects and out of specifications.
  • At the completion of the order: you can poll end-users to gather feedback on the ordering process and the goods or services delivered.

Multi-Supplier Performance Dashboards

These dashboards can be used to compare several suppliers across the same or multiple categories, depending on your objectives.

Comparing the suppliers in this way can be powerful motivator. For example, you could use the comparison data to push your suppliers towards best practice.

Alternatively, you could identify the least competitive suppliers for elimination, or identify other improvement opportunities. If your objective is to reduce your number of suppliers, KPI data could help you make a decision based on the suppliers’ ranking.

Recipe for Success

Keep the following five tips in your procurement toolkit for the next time you’re drafting KPIs and thinking about how to get the most out of your supplier relationships:

  1. Avoid an adversarial approach. Remember, this is all about relationships – and about people. People are more relaxed and inclined to come to an agreement when they aren’t in an adversarial environment. As a procurement professional, you’re going to lead your supplier to success through innovative and progressive means. Essentially, you are the champion of their cause to your senior management.
  1. Work collaboratively with your supplier to develop each KPI and agree on how it will be used. Let the supplier know which KPIs are critical to your organisation – the ones you’ll be listing on the dashboard and sharing with senior management. This enables the supplier to work with you to develop the best approach for success.
  1. Have regular reviews with the supplier – both formal and informal. Always keep the lines of communication open.
  1. When issues do arise, address them as soon as possible. Workshop with the supplier on how to best solve the issue. Remember, don’t focus on the symptom, but try to identify the root cause of any problem and find a solution that will work for everyone.
  1. Let your supplier know how they’re performing compared to others suppliers, while keeping their identities anonymous. This is a form of benchmarking and can help motivate suppliers to improve.

That wraps up our three-part series on setting Key Performance Indicators! Hopefully this will set you on the path to KPI success, but if you have any comments or questions, you can ask them in our new Procurement Tools and Templates Group.

Why Instant Supplier Information Access Can Fire Productivity

Procurement needs to maximise its productivity if its going to meet business needs. Having access to real-time supplier information is a step in the right direction.

supplier information productivity

When I started my career in procurement over 40 years ago, we used notebooks to store all of our supplier information.

Go ahead – be shocked or have a little chuckle about how ‘primitive’ we were! But guess what? Things haven’t changed nearly as much as people like to think.

Today, most procurement teams have modernised their supplier information management by using some type of a shared database. These solutions, while centralised and searchable, still rely on internal team members manually entering and then searching for supplier knowledge.

And while most companies are doing the best they can with scarce resources, it is important to remember that it is possible to make progress without actually resolving any key business issues, or becoming the slightest bit more strategic.

Value in Scalability

We had notebooks and you have a database. But if the information isn’t (a) current and (b) fully leveraged, it doesn’t really matter where it sits.

The true transformative value of any technology is its scalability. How much of an effect does it have on the amount of work each person can accomplish?

tealbook, a platform that centralises supplier provided information, internal supplier knowledge, data from Dun & Bradstreet, and aggregate intelligence from industry peers, has set this challenge of scalability as their target.

Making it possible for procurement to accelerate the discovery process through instant supplier recommendations, and improving the match between business needs and prospective suppliers, gets at that need for scale.

With better suppliers available sooner, procurement can achieve a step change in their productivity. This also helps to move the needle on the all-important metric of spend under management.

Productivity – Focusing Your Efforts

Let’s say you’ve got 20 people working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. That gives you a maximum of 40,000 procurement hours per year. You’ve got to ask yourself how many of those hours the team spends looking or searching for something to satisfy an information need. Every hour not spent on value-added activities is an opportunity to improve productivity.

When we look at procurement’s productivity in the context of supplier discovery, we have to focus our attention on how much time procurement spends searching for the right suppliers before a sourcing project can get off the ground.

In order to decrease the time required for discovery – and increase the quality of the suppliers invited to participate – we need to make sure we’re searching a resource dense with suppliers and supplier information, preferably using a common language search rather than archaic codes.

Whether you’re looking at a supplier discovery platform or a more traditional supplier marketplace, the point is to focus your efforts where they are most likely to generate positive results.

There’s a huge advantage in somebody being willing to take the time to centralise the right information and maintain it. The resulting resource will make a dramatic improvement to what procurement is able to deliver, how often we can deliver those results, and just how BIG those results are.

There aren’t many companies adding employees, so if you can find a solution that dramatically changes the amount of work each employee can do, you’ve really got something strategic.

Meeting Real-Time Supplier Information Needs

Today, an increasing number of corporations want to believe that their procurement teams operate strategically. As that reputation spreads, more and more projects will come from the business.

In order to handle the increased demand for our time and skills, procurement has to be really good at making decisions about how to spend time and allocate scarce resources.

If we are going to facilitate purchases, strategically source every category, AND meet the real-time needs of the business, technology has to be capable of actual heavy lifting, not just function as an electronic supplier notebook.

In my next post, we’ll go beyond the supplier information modernisation process to look at the strategic value of a marketplace approach.

Gregg Brandyberry is a recognised pioneer in procurement and sourcing technology. He has over 40 years experience in industries such as automotive, textile, manufactured goods, electronics and healthcare.

He is the former Vice President of Procurement – Global Systems and Operations for GlaxoSmithKline, and a Senior Advisor for A.T. Kearney’s Procurement and Analytic Solutions organisation.

5 Biggest Challenges Facing Public Sector Procurement

Public sector procurement managers face a different set of challenges to their private sector peers. But which are the biggest challenges?

challenges public sector procurement

The procurement profession is increasingly becoming a core component of an organisation’s innovation and process-driven strategies to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and make advancements. As a result, procurement managers are feeling the pressure to remain agile and at the forefront of change.

When it comes to the public sector, however, there are numerous and unique roadblocks to successfully implementing these strategies, systems and processes into existing operations.

Procurement managers in the public sector often have a specific framework within which they are required to work. Generally these framework have an increased focus on probity, and lack the traditional supply chain model.

However, public sector procurement departments are responsible for some of the highest levels of spend in any given economy. In most countries, state and federal departments and agencies are responsible for purchasing for public services, including healthcare, infrastructure, and education.

In recent years, the spend by public sector agencies in both the UK and Australia has been measured as over 40 per cent of national GDP. With scrutiny over how money is spent, and any inefficiencies open to public criticism, public sector procurement professionals face a tricky balancing act.

As such, the public sector can both be a source of great knowledge and best practices for those in industry. Yet, they also face their own particular set of challenges.

Key Challenges for Procurement

In July, GovProcure launched a survey aimed at finding out, directly from government procurement managers, what their biggest challenges are for 2016 and beyond.

After analysing the results, the 5 main challenges have been identified so far as:

  1. Realising true benefits from data and analytics in the procurement division
  2. Ensuring the benefits of embedding sustainable procurement practices are fully realised
  3. Balancing outsourcing with maintaining high quality internal capacity
  4. Getting the most out of suppliers
  5. Developing strategies to engage effectively with Indigenous suppliers

Do you have any challenges to add? There’s still time for you to get involved and have your say in the survey. You can complete the survey here.

The final results will be shared with the audience at the GovProcure 2016 conference later this year. The event will host a panel discussion specifically designed to address the challenges identified in the survey. The session will also give procurement managers tangible ideas for improvement in the areas that matter to them most.

Let’s stop just talking about the challenges we face, and work together to overcome them.

The GovProcure 2016 conference in Sydney brings together public sector procurement managers from all levels of government each year to focus on in on opportunities to improve, collaborate and ultimately deliver more value to their organisations.

To find out more, download a GovProcure brochure here.